A huge and stunning cave complex

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

Vardzia Cave Complex

Product country


Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Having arrived at Georgia’s Vardzia Cave Complex, I looked up to the caves cut into the side of the mountain and thought, ‘I’m never going to be able to get up there’. My fears were doubled when having been let through the exit barrier to avoid a crush of children waiting to enter, we discovered that the shuttle buses which ferried visitors up a long, steep tarmac road to the starting point, were not running. However, we took it slowly and with a few stops to ‘admire the views’, I made it to the start of the cave complex.

The man-made caves hewn from a sheer rock wall, overlooking the Mtkvari River and close to the Armenian border, were the idea of King Giorgi III as a place where villagers could take shelter in the face of enemy raids. However, it flourished during the reign of the legendary Queen Tamar, who reimagined the complex as a self-sufficient city, rather than a place of temporary shelter. Designed to accommodate up to 50,000 people, there would have been more than 6,000 rooms on 19 levels. These would have served various purposes, including sleeping quarters, chapels and apothecaries and what I thought was sensible, at least 25 wine cellars. Currently around a third of the site is preserved.

Most of the caves were empty and we wandered the various walkways, peeping in at the least busy. The Church of the Dormition, dating back to the 1180s, had an important series of colourful frescoes where the rocks had to be smoothed with lime before being painted. Eventually, we reached the highest level and the flag which we’d seen flying from below.

There is a huge labyrinth of tunnels, many of them very long, and we were given the option of returning to the bottom via one. But having established the ceiling would be low, I decided to return back via the steps and steep hill.

This was a fascinating complex, but you need plenty of stamina and comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking up and down on uneven steps and narrow paths.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.